Our second rider also has a good leg position. I can’t see where the black iron crosses the ball of his foot—hopefully it is about one-third of the way back and angled forward with his little toe touching the outside branch. As readers know, I prefer the functionality and beauty of polished stainless steel. There is a 100-degree angle behind his knee telling me the stirrup length is correct. His ankle is flexed and his heel is down.
The rider is either dropping back too early, which is a minor fault, or the horse could have stood off the jump and caused the rider to be left back, which is more serious. In either case, his hip angle has opened too much at this point in the jump and he looks a little defensive and riding behind the motion. The horse also could be intimidating him a little with his powerful hind-end thrust off the ground. The problem with dropping back or getting left is that the rider could end up hitting the horse in the back or mouth. This rider is using an automatic release with a straight line from the elbow to the bit, but he may be restricting the horse a little with his hand.
This is a powerful type of horse. He has a big shoulder and a large head. At this point of the jump, the center of his arc should be over the center of the fence. Instead, his trajectory is way out past the fence. He’s leaping rather than jumping.
His turnout is average. His mane needs to be trained to lie down. And his coat doesn’t have as much shine as I’d like to see from good, deep, consistent grooming. The rider is dressed in conservative attire, though the coat may be a bit large. It looks as if his boots could have been wiped off before he went in the ring.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Practical Horseman.